photo of Kim Leary
Kimberlyn Leary
Executive Vice President
  • Profile
  • Outside Affiliations
  • Learning, collaborative inquiry, and inclusive leadership have formed the cornerstones of my professional career. Working closely with people whose lives intersected with intervening public systems enabled me to have a deep, empathic, and granular experience with public policy as it meets the lives of individuals and families. At a time of unprecedented urgency in our nation, I believe that Urban Institute’s commitment to evidence-based research and solution-finding is essential to create and then sustain just, equitable, safe, and healthy communities.

    Kimberlyn Leary, executive vice president at the Urban Institute, works with Urban’s president, Sarah Rosen Wartell, to enhance Urban's impact and forge new partnerships. Previously, Leary was Urban’s senior vice president for research management and program development.

    Before joining Urban, Leary held full-time academic roles at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, where she directed the Enabling Change program. She led the Center of Excellence in Women's Mental Health at McLean Hospital as its first executive director and was chief psychologist at Cambridge Health Alliance. Her career began at the University of Michigan.

    Leary has advised the White House under President Obama and President Biden. She was an adviser to the Obama White House Council on Women and Girls and a senior policy adviser to the Office of National Drug Control Policy. During the Biden-Harris transition, Leary was a part-time volunteer member on the agency review team for that office. At the Biden White House, on IPA assignment from Urban, she was the first senior equity fellow at the Office of Management and Budget and a senior adviser to the Domestic Policy Council.

    Additionally, Leary is an award-winning educator and writer, focusing on government innovation, adaptive leadership, collaboration, and equity. She holds an MPA from Harvard Kennedy School and a PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Michigan. She also has advanced training as a psychoanalyst from the Michigan Psychoanalytic Association.

    Research Areas
    Crime, justice, and safety
    Health and health care
    Nonprofits and philanthropy
    Neighborhoods, cities, and metros
    Children and youth
    Race and equity
    Racial equity in education
    Racial inequities in health

    Outside Affiliations
    Folger Shakespeare Library; Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls; Boston Psychoanalytic Institute; Austen Riggs Center
    Advisory Boards
    Pivotal Upswing Fund; MacArthur Foundation 100&Change; Connected Health; Lever for Change; University of Texas Prison and Jail Innovation Lab; Mental Health Strategic Impact Initiative
    Faculty Appointments
    Harvard Medical School; Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; Boston Psychoanalytic Institute
    New America; Harvard Bloomberg Center for Cities

    Urban experts are permitted and empowered to work and affiliate with outside organizations, whether serving on boards, volunteering their time, or providing advice and counsel. And Urban welcomes visiting scholars, nonresident or affiliated fellows who work for other organizations. These outside affiliations enrich our perspectives and our learning environment. We also require all paid and unpaid experts to disclose their affiliations to Urban leadership and follow rules governing their engagement to ensure transparency for audiences and independence of experts.